Highway To Hell Has Potholes
2 and 1/2 stars
Suspend all logic and say, 'Wow, what a role!', 'What revenge!', 'What acting!' but then you're probably paying homage to the production house. Rest of us scrambled hard to find empathy initially but enjoyed the revenge, nonetheless.
If you have grown up watching the angry young man beat up men three times his size and bundle them into an ambulance; if you have seen (and enjoyed) scrawny heroes batter big SUV sized henchmen and made those films 100 crore hits; if you don't mind the mindless blowing up of cars and storage units and buildings in the name of revenge in movies, then you'll love this movie. And you'll want to give it all the stars you've saved up.
So let's say I give this film five stars. But it wants desperately to stay away from the popular 100 crore club color and unbelievable action-song-romance drama. So you begin to look at the film closely. And you soon knock off a star.
Can't keep their hands off one another (in dialog at least, seduction wise) couple Arjun and Meera (Neel Bhoopalam and Anushka Sharma) reluctantly arrive at a party and instead of being glued to each other (puke inducing reality be damned!), party practically separately. The husband is so lame, he lets the wife drive off alone. I think, 'There go your chances of scoring any with the wife forever and ever!'
But this is an arty movie. Maybe she likes her men lame and socially inept.
She presents an understanding of the rural India mindset, and one is impressed. But the husband continues to annoy the audience with his, 'Main in sab ko dikhaata hoon.'
You don't delete one star for foolhardiness, you drop the star because that fancy SUV the two lovebirds drive has no phone charger, and their smartphones have no map assist. 'Oh come on!' you say, 'Eden Lake was made in 2008 and they have Google Maps and the woman advising the couple to 'turn around at the earliest'.
And the husband is shown to make it a habit of leaving without his phone. Erm... How many men today wander even two feet away from their phones? This is not a Rohit Shetty film where a cute, horizontally challenged child steals the hero's phone to type 'meet me' messages to the heroine... This is an art film.
The four star film without a phone map wanders into Haryana where everyone knows how to write 'randi', is a smartmouth, and lawless enough to beat a runaway couple in full public view with baseball bats. This four star movie tells us that people get shot in Gurgaon for asking baddies to pay toll, but the village baddies have no guns, not even desi kattas. And you believe the same production house made Gangs Of Wasseypur? This pothole in the highway to hell made me scratch out another half star.
This three and a half star film now limps around when the hero decides to play Singham without the muscles (and cojones) and go after the baddies. I missed Rohit Shetty here. The slow arty scene with the mentally challenged marigold chomping Chhote brought in sharp focus Adam from Eden Lake. Which was creepier? As proof, I take away yet another half of a star from the movie. How not original this is!
The baddies chasing, beating, injuring the hero and heroine is fun only because you realise you don't care whether the hero and the heroine live or die. Going by the characterization, one expected the fiesty Anushka Sharma to intervene in the fight rather than the lame husband. The 'bad guy slapped me so I'll chase them down and scare them with my gun' is such a daft idea...
But foolhardiness pushes the story forward. Not. We are still lost in the jungles, going round and round (you are so fed up you want the chasers and the chasee to find each other), finding brilliance occasionally (the quarry scene) but you grit your teeth again when the fauji (super acting by Ravi Jhankal) accepts drinking water from a Bihari. For a hugely casteist film, how did they overlook that? They tell you why a Bihari cannot stay within the village, but he can offer water to the upper cast baddies? Oddly convenient that...
That made me scratch out another star from the film.
The two and half star movie finally shows up for what it is: a facepalm worthy homage to Kill Bill. The yellow jacket and the dragging iron rod.
I sigh. But I enjoy watching Deepti Naval steal the whole movie from under the heroine's nose in that little cameo. That is the one point of time when the heroine sits on the bed, clutching a pillow, when I felt scared for the heroine.
The end is predictable because Uma Thurman dragged the Hanzo and so should Anushka...
I wish this had been a regular chop-schloky fun masala movie like Dabanng, I would have happily forgiven its potholes and enjoyed the bumpy ride. It could have made other heroines want to jump on the action bandwagon. But when the director decides to keep it gritty and arty, then the judging is harsher. It's not original, it has too many obvious mistakes, and the empathy for the heroine seems forced.
Eden Lake, the Micheal Fassbender and Kelly Reilly movie that inspired this movie is far creepier and superior in its story telling. Watch the trailer here and see for yourself. You will be afraid of 12 year olds forever. But NH10... Sigh... It only raises a feeble voice against the unfairness of patriarchy, and after two hours, you are wondering how corpses with head wounds on tv shows bleed so much and why the husband in NH10 did not bleed at all...
the Kill Bill inspired scenes, story idea borrowed from creepy revenge cinema like Eden Lake and even Last House On The Left
If you can watch scrawny heros beat up twenty guys in a regular chop-scholky film then this film is stupendous. Let's say you swallow a whole lot of disbelief and then watch the film